Brooks’ law in aid plans : is more always merrier? gain goes down the drain.

Definition Brooks’ law on software development says : “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. Brooks adds to his law that “Nine women can not make a baby in one month”. Is there a similar law for development? I could propose two options: If results are elusive, adding an extra partner to […]


Donor projects: is money a placebo, attention the drug?

In development, local self reliance is often seen as the main long term objective, while the delivered “hardware”, bridges, roads, schooling, are just seen as stepping stones to the road of self reliance. I would like to raise the following issue: when working with a local partner in a structured way, the donor attention sometimes […]


Aid evolution: a system beyond planning, markets and networks

Local units obeying local incentives and rules1 I remember the bleak look of the supermarkets in Nicaragua in 1992. Only a few products were available, nearly all from the same low quality brands. So where should we buy diapers, baby toys?  I am speaking about the everyday things you need to run a household with […]


Civil society, or perhaps mercenaries. What are NGOs?

A Grimm fairy tale While reading the Haiti Earthquake Flash Appeal 2010, I was surprised, after all these years of talk about local ownership, to find only a few local civil society organisations mentioned in the whole document. What is wrong here? Have the poor become less empowered over the years? In the seventies and […]


From heart of darkness; develop or civilize? to city of light

The objectives of development aid are not well defined. This is one of the reasons why it is so easy to claim that aid does not work. More narrowly defined sub objectives, like diminishing child mortality, or getting more children in schools (whatever they do there) are more specific, and success is more common and […]